Probiotics may ‘counter obesity and diabetes’: NIH study

"Our results indicate that probiotics are of potential therapeutic utility to counter obesity and diabetes" - Dr Hariom Yadav, et al.

A daily dose of probiotics may prevent weight gain and insulin resistance in mice, says a new study from scientists at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) with implications for obesity and diabetes.

Daily consumption of the VSL#3 commercial probiotic product led to an increase in levels of the short chain fatty acid (SCFA), butyrate, which in turn stimulated the release of the appetite-suppressing hormone GLP-1 and reduced food intake and improved glucose tolerance in lab mice, according to findings published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

In an email to NutraIngredients-USA, lead author Hariom Yadav, PhD, from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the NIH, said: "The novel finding of this study is that VSL#3 flora can increase butyrate production in the gut. We are now developing single strains that can produce higher butyrate levels, and can be used for designing new functional foods or medical formulations for obese and diabetics."

Probiotics and weight management

In 2006, Prof. Jeffrey Gordon and his group at Washington University in St. Louis reported in Nature (Vol. 444, pp. 1022-1023, 1027-1031) that microbial populations in the gut are different between obese and lean people, and that when the obese people lost weight their microflora reverted back to that observed in a lean person, suggesting that obesity may have a microbial component.

Dr Gordon and his group recently pushed back the scientific boundaries even further in this area. In an ‘elegant’ study, the St Louis-based scientists reported that probiotics in a yogurt did not colonize the gut microflora when studied in identical twins, but an additional study in mice revealed that ingestion of probiotic bacteria produced a change in many metabolic pathways, particularly those related to carbohydrate metabolism (Science Translational Medicine, Vol. 3, 106ra106).

The new study adds to this ever-growing and exciting area of research, noting that a blend of bacterial strains was associated with prevention of weight gain and insulin resistance in lab mice fed a high fat diet.

The product

The researchers used the VSL#3 product by Sigma Tau Pharmaceuticals, described by the company as a “potent probiotic medical food that delivers the highest available concentration of beneficial live bacteria of any probiotic in the world”. Four formulations are available, including capsules each with 112.5 billion live bacteria, packets each containing 450 billion live bacteria, double strength packets, and junior packets, each with 225 billion live bacteria.

Dr Yadav told us that, interestingly, his team's findings show that, while the current results relate to a medical food formulation, the changes to the gut microflora are similar to those reported previously for probiotic dietary supplements.

The VSL#3 formulations contain a combination of eight bacterial strains: Bifidobacterium breve, B. longum, B. infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. paracasei, L. bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophiles.

Study details

Dr Yadav and his co-workers divided lab mice into low- and high-fat diet groups with or without additional probiotics for eight weeks.

Results showed that providing probiotics to the high-fat diet animals suppressed weight gain, equivalent to that of mice fed the low-fat diet. VSL#3 was also associated with smaller fat cell size, less fat deposition in the cells, lower blood glucose levels, and improved glucose and insulin tolerance, compared to the non-probiotic high-fat diet animals.

“VSL#3 significantly decreased the circulating levels of inflammatory cytokines i.e. IL-6, MCP-1 and TNF-a suggesting that VSL#3 reduced the inflammatory state that is often associated with obesity and insulin resistance,” they added. “These beneficial metabolic effects of VSL#3 were associated with a significant decrease in food intake.”

Additional study showed that GLP-1 levels significantly increased, with butyrate found to stimulate its release.  

“Our findings allow us to propose a model that might explain the VSL#3 mediated improved metabolic effects. Probiotics (like VSL#3) modulate the gut flora composition (i.e. decreased firmicutes and increased bacteriodetes and bifidobacteria) and lead to improved metabolic efficacy. The altered gut microbiota stimulates differential production of SCFAs (like butyrate) that in turn promote GLP1 secretion […] to improve metabolic health and protect from obesity and diabetes,” wrote the researchers.

“The possibility that dietary supplementation of probiotics can modify the gut flora and result in changes in levels of short chain fatty acids that promote release of hormones like GLP1 will further stimulate research aimed at understanding the mechanism of action of other beneficial probiotics.”

Source: The Journal of Biological Chemistry
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.452516
“Beneficial metabolic effects of a probiotic via butyrate induced GLP-1 secretion”
Authors: H. Yadav, J-H. Lee, J. Lloyd, P. Walter, S.G. Rane

Related News

Food industry research and NPD activity is vital to efforts in reducing and reversing the risk of diabetes and cognitive decline, says Professor Louise dye from the University of Leeds in the UK.

Food industry has important role in preventing cognitive decline and diabetes risk, warns expert

Chr Hansen: “Mixed results in the published probiotic studies underscore the notion that not all probiotics  are created equal.."

Chr Hansen files global probiotic immunity patent

Researchers behind the findings have said the research could revolutionise the way we think about the microbiota

It's all in the genes: Researchers unravel genetic mechanism behind microbiome colonisation

Gut health and obesity: Human gut bacteria can alter mouse metabolism, depending on diet, says new study

Gut health and obesity: Human gut bacteria can alter mouse metabolism, depending on diet, says new study

Certain probiotics could help women lose weight, study finds

Certain probiotics could help women lose weight, study finds

UK research takes aim at beneficial bacteria's ability to break down carbs

UK research takes aim at beneficial bacteria's ability to break down carbs

Autoimmune conditions - including type 1 diabetes - may be linked to 'substantial' alterations in the interaction of our gut bacteria, say researchers.

Gut microbiota ‘networks’ may play a role in autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes risk

Probiotic strains reduce fatty liver condition and has an anti-inflammatory effect in obese Zucker rats, according to research. Photo credit: Alexey Krasavin.

Probiotics linked to liver fat reduction in rat study

Spinach extracts show potential to reduce ’hedonic hunger’ and aid weight management

Spinach extracts show potential to reduce ’hedonic hunger’ and aid weight management

Probiotic supplementation could be useful in preventing insulin resistance induced by excessive consumption of high-fat foods, according to research funded by Yakult

Probiotic drink may help control insulin resistance: Healthy human research

Probiotics may help cut body fat levels: RCT data

Probiotics may help cut body fat levels: RCT data

Amish study makes ‘important step forward’ in understanding gut microflora and metabolic pathways

Amish study makes ‘important step forward’ in understanding gut microflora and metabolic pathways

The study may represent "a valuable roadmap has now been produced to guide future research on how exogenous organisms affect the host"

Probiotics may influence carbohydrate metabolism: ‘Elegant’ study

Study highlights role of gut bacteria for ‘nutrient harvest’ and weight gain

Study highlights role of gut bacteria for ‘nutrient harvest’ and weight gain

Gut microflora and obesity: Study highlights potential for pre-, probiotics

Related Products

See more related products

Comments (2)

harry - 21 Jul 2013 | 01:49

PROBIOTICS Vs Obesity?

Pro/pre/biotic mix may rebalance Gut flora and reduce cravings while improving food absorption.

21-Jul-2013 at 13:49 GMT

Jo Ann Dohe - 12 Jul 2013 | 05:51

dietary supplementation of probiotics

I wish to have more articles concerning the above subject.

12-Jul-2013 at 05:51 GMT

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.